It’s back to reality. Time to go back to work. Leaving home after numerous weeks of maternity leave can be a daunting task. No more sweats until noon and snacking whenever you want. No more daytime TV and doing your Pilates DVD while the kids nap. No more naps with your baby on the couch or story time at the library with your toddler. For some women, ending their maternity leave and heading back to work can be a huge and somewhat anxiety ridden transition. Here are 5 tips that can make going to back work a little bit easier.
1. In the days prior to your return to work, make a variety of meals that you can store in the freezer. When returning home after a long day of work, your dinner will already be partially prepared, leaving one less thing to stress about. You can continue to replicate this process on Sundays, making your week night meals fast and easy to cook. Some possible meal options include seasoned chicken to be used in tacos or quesadillas, barbeque, spaghetti sauce or vegetable beef stew. My favorite freezer meals are the kind I can put in the crock pot in the morning before I leave the house, so they are ready to go as soon as I walk in the door.
2. Do a day care supply drop off before your first day back at work. Take in your child’s diapers, wipes, formula, snow pants, necessary paper work and any other necessities required by the day care. By doing this ahead of time, you can ensure a much quicker stop in and out your first morning, getting you to work on time and alleviating any additional stress that comes with arriving to work late. It is also a good idea to take your child when you drop off the supplies so they can have a tour and meet their day care provider. The more comfortable your child is, the more comfortable you will be. It is important to remember that this will be a big transition for your child too.
3. Plan for pumping. Many women who return to work after having a baby plan to continue to feed their baby breast milk. This will probably require that you pump during your work hours. By law, employers must allow time and a sanitary space (often called a lactation room or nursing room) for breast feeding women to pump. Check out your work places’ facilities and policies on this. Most times a simple email or conversation with a boss or supervisor about scheduled times will take care of this, but do it ahead of time so you are not scrambling and worrying.
4. Buy a new outfit (or two). Women better about themselves when they are both comfortable and confident they look good. You’ve done everything for your little bundle of joy for the past few weeks (probably while wearing a puke covered sweatshirt). So go out and treat yourself… you deserve it! Chances are that the compliments you receive on your first day back will also put a smile on your face.
5. Bring a picture of your beautiful baby to proudly display on your desk or in your work area. Amidst your busy and productive schedule you will occasionally see your precious baby’s face, and even though you can’t be with them at that moment, a little reminder about what you have to look forward to when you head home at the end of the day can be the little boost you need to get through the day.
Congratulations on your new baby! I wish you the best of luck as you head back to work and I hope that these tips have been helpful for you. With a little advanced preparation, you will head back to work a calm and confident woman.